Workplace harassment or sexual harassment is not a rare phenomenon. It happens all over the world and cannot be viewed under a political prism. When it comes to translating the abovementioned issue onto the silver screen, there will be plenty of people who’ll criticize the attempt by turning it into a controversy. The reality is that whether we all want it or not, we must forget what or who we are before we begin watching “Bombshell” for a very simple reason – if it did not happen to you or me, it did to so many other women and men that are yet to speak out. And the reason they have not done that yet is because of the different circumstances they may find themselves in that will be less fortunate than the ones who were able to escape Fox News, for instance.
Most women go work to make a living by fulfilling their contractual obligation, but in the environment created by Roger Ailes (John Lithgow), women must play a different role. “Bombshell” follows a group of women who decide to stop Roger Ailes, the founder of FOX News, from constantly sexually harassing his employees. It all starts with Gretchen Carlson (Nicole Kidman) who declares war on one of the most powerful men in America. But her lawsuit won’t mean anything if she is not joined by the female staff of FOX News who went through the same nightmare. This time the main role must be played by Megyn Kelly (Charlize Theron), one of the most successful female figures at the station who finds herself in the midst of attacks of the presidential candidate Donald Trump, who she must deal with as delicately as possible.
As soon as the film starts, there is no doubt that we must spend almost two hours in a toxic atmosphere presiding over at American’s number one network. We meet the enthusiastic Kayla Pospisil (Margot Robbie) who is overjoyed to be a part of Fox News. When she asks for a minute with Roger Ailes, the young woman thought that it will be her most life-defining moment when she can finally get air time. However, after ending up in Roger Ailes’ office, she turns into a statistic of sexually harassed women by Ailes. That particular scene paints the picture of Ailes as a predator who would treat women as his own prey.
However, Ailes was not the only one who was willing to take advantage of his powerful position, as many other male employees would have done the same, which is subtly conveyed in Jay Roach’s “Bombshell”. When we meet Megyn Kelly, she is preparing for the Fox News debate; she begins exercising a conscientious language towards the presidential candidate, Trump, who in return comes back with unpleasant words towards the woman, turning her into a national headline. In the meantime, Gretchen Carlson does her best to remain afloat, but nothing seems to work until the moment when she comes to the realization that somebody has to get mad in order to stop the abuse of women at a place she proudly calls her second home.
Shot in a similar format to “Big Short”, “Bombshell” is a docudrama that talks about an important issue that evolved at Fox News. Despite the fact that we heard from more than a dozen victims of Roger Ailes, the film takes one particular character, a composite version of them all – Kayla Pospisil who, through her actions, brings up one of the most damning issues, sadly, women had to go through on a daily basis. There is one line delivered by Margot Robbie which is what perhaps should have been asked by many when she turns her attention on Megyn Kelly asking, “Why when you knew that Roger Ailes was doing all these years ago did nothing to stop it?”, is the question many do not even dare to ask.
As for the performance, it’s what “Bombshell” gets right on point. Having three leading actresses in Theron-Kidman-Robbie is an absolute delight. However, the complete and mind-blowing transformation of Charlize Theron to Megyn Kelly will make you feel that it was Megyn Kelly who plays herself. Every scene Theron appears seems like a master at work. Nicole Kidman as Gretchen Carlson is already big enough to process; her nuanced interpretation of equally powerful and vulnerable Carlson, who despite her sacrifice, must rely on different people to have her voice heard. The titans of the cinematic world, Theron and Kidman, do what they were hired for and even more, delivering one of the most important messages – we don’t have to be physically strong to make our case. Any man or woman can be stopped if one person comes forward. And there’s nothing to worry about if one is called ‘bombshell’ because for one it might be just a sensation, while for another who had to go through psychological and physical abuse, it is a constant nightmare that will never come to an end.
In the end, the screenplay by Charles Randolph makes “Bombshell” one of those films that must be seen more than a few times to grasp it completely. Whether it’s the lines, performances, or its concept, everything about it matches its title. It’s smart, elegant, important and must be seen by everyone whether you’re a Fox News supporter or not.